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Predictions & Projections
By David M. Dorey
 
The Huddle
WEEK 5
October 1, 2003
Season Ticket
Sun 1 PM *TEN at NE Sun 4 PM Sun 8:30 PM Bye Week:
*ARZ at DAL *MIN at ATL DET at SF *CLE at PIT Ravens
CIN at BUF *NO at CAR WAS at PHI Mon 9 PM Texans
*DEN at KC OAK at CHI *SD at JAX *IND at TB Jets
MIA at NYG SEA at GB   *updated Rams
   
Denver vs Kansas City Sun, Oct 5; 1 PM on CBS at Arrowhead Stadium
  Denver Rush Catch Pass
QB Jake Plummer 40 0 230,2
RB Clinton Portis 100,1 20,1 0
TE Shannon Sharpe 0 50 0
WR Rod Smith 0 40 0
WR Ed McCaffrey 0 20 0
WR Ashley Lelie 0 70,1 0
  Kansas City Rush Catch Pass
QB Trent Green 0 0 210,1
RB Priest Holmes 120,2 40 0
TE Tony Gonzalez 0 50 0
WR Johnnie Morton 0 30 0
WR Marc Boerigter 0 50,1 0
WR Eddie Kennison 0 30 0


Game Prediction: DEN 24, KC 29

Update: Portis returned to practice on Wednesday and took full contact drills on Thursday with no setbacks. As he showed in the Monday night game against Oakland - one good shot can send him back to the sidelines. I am leaving his numbers alone this week since he is capable of them if healthy the entire game. This is a critical game for both teams and Denver has six more weeks before playing another divisional game, so if Portis can go, he will definitely be used here.

Here's a game of more than a little interest to the NFL and fantasy world.

The 4-0 Broncos enter this week after having - whew - dispatched the Detroit Lions last week in a game that either showed that Denver was emotionally flat after their big Monday night win over the Raiders or that they really need Clinton Portis to get his treasured chest back on the field.

With Portis out last week, the Broncos went to a rotation between Mike Anderson (7-21) and Quentin Griffin (9-12) and neither obviously made Portis feel any less important. It was a similar sharing scenario that Shanahan has used before when no one back is distinguishing himself though Griffin showed nice speed and cuts while Anderson had the better power runs. Put them both together and you get Portis.

Clinton Portis has already been the subject of conjecture this week, with the Shanahan stating that his star RB would still be questionable to play this week while other sources tout that he is improving and will play. Hard to imagine that their best weapon misses probably the toughest game of the year for the lead in the AFC West. Until further updated, I am believing the "other sources" instead of Mike "Pants on Fire" Shanahan. Updates as needed.

C Tom Nalen is banged up with a bad ankle but the MRI was negative.

Shannon Sharpe continues to make his swan song season a nice one, catching a touchdown in the past three games and now heading to Kansas City where last season he had 214 yards and two scores in his career best game.

Jake Plummer started slowly this season but has been everything Denver wanted the past three games, throwing seven touchdowns against no interceptions and gaining 88 rushing yards the last two games. What if Shanahan was right about him? Plummer is playing very well within what he can do and running the ball better than he ever has. He has added a new dimension to the offense and with Portis in the backfield, play action fakes mean something now. Last week when the run was not working he threw for 277 yards and two scores.

While Rod Smith has not enjoyed good numbers - his best game so far is 71 yards and he still has not scored - the clear beneficiary of Plummer's stare has been Ashley Lelie going deep. Last week Lelie had 108 yards and one score on only three receptions.

The Chiefs are enjoying the benefits of having a defense this season, coupled with a league leader special teams unit that showcases Dante Hall who has a touchdown return in the past three games. Hall is considered too small for everydown duty on the offense but he still contributes a few runs and receptions. Electrifying as a player, Hall has given the fans someone besides Priest Holmes that can bring them out of their seats whenever he touches the ball.

Priest Holmes (103 total yards) had his first game without a score in Baltimore but made it through the day without any setbacks to his health and he is a full strength this week to face Denver. Last year at home, Holmes was good for 151 yards and three touchdowns. Tony Gonzalez finally scored this season but only had 13 yards on three catches last week. HC Dick Vermiel continues to tell the media that Gonzalez will get more work and is no less a part of the offense that he has been. Ankle and knee problems are finally healing and Gonzalez faces the Broncos this week, a team that he rarely scores a touchdown against but typically has a decent yardage day. Last season he had 58 yards in both matchups.

After throwing five interceptions in the first three games, Trent Green finally had a game with none last week against the Ravens, throwing for only 159 yards and the one short scoring strike to Gonzalez. Johnnie Morton led receivers with five catches for 73 yards and added 36 yards on a run. It was easily the best performance by a wideout for the Chiefs this season but was more related to the defensive pressure against Holmes than any change in offensive strategy. Neither Morton or Kennison are getting more than five or six looks a game.

This week pits the two undefeated AFC West teams in a showdown. Last season saw fantasy bonanzas in this matchup that produced two Denver wins and 126 total points in the two games. The home team has fared better the past few seasons and Denver barely squeaked out a 37-34 win last year in KC.

With the Chiefs defense now vastly improved, the key component to the game will be Clinton Portis. If he can play, this will be a nail-biter to watch. Portis had four touchdowns and 205 total yards the last time they met. Without Portis, the onus will be on Plummer to carry the team and continue his ability to keep the offense clicking with his arm and legs. With Plummer and Portis, the offense spreads out the defense. Without Portis, the Chiefs will be shadowing Plummer and minimizing what he can do.

Look for a big day from Holmes and a better passing game from Green who should finally dust off Dante Hall and Marc Boerigter in the passing scheme if the Broncos are playing tough in the secondary. This is a must win game for both teams and Kansas City has not needed to be overly creative yet this season.

Assuming Portis is healthy, the Chiefs will face their best offense this season. Tough against the run primarily because they get so far ahead in most games, Kansas City will have to pick their poison and get it right to win. Look for Portis to have a good, though not great afternoon but open up the passing game enough to make the Chiefs respect it. This is the biggest test for both teams this season and a must watch game.

DEN
KC
2003 Averages
KC
DEN
Gains
Allows
QB's
Gains
Allows
195
224
Pass yards
207
195
1.8
1.3
Pass TDs
1.0
1.0
0.8
2.5
Interceptions
1.0
1.0
25
11
Rush yards
5
4
0.3
0.0
Rush TDs
0.0
0.0
----
----
RB's
----
----
125
84
Rush yards
130
75
1.0
0.3
Rush TDs
2.0
0.3
29
43
Receive yards
59
9
0.3
0.0
Receive TD's
0.0
0.0
----
----
WR's
----
----
128
145
Receive yards
121
140
0.5
1.0
Receive TD's
0.5
1.0
----
----
TE's
----
----
38
31
Receive yards
27
47
1.0
0.3
Receive TD's
0.5
0.0
----
----
PK's
----
----
2.3
0.8
Field Goals
1.3
1.3
3.3
1.8
Extra Points
4.3
1.3
----
----
DEF/ST
----
----
0.5
0.3
Fumbles
1.0
0.5
1.0
1.3
Interceptions
2.5
0.8
0.3
0.3
Touchdowns
1.0
0.0
2.5
2.0
Sacks
2.8
1.8
0.0
0.0
Safeties
0.0
0.0
Broncos (4-0)
Score Opp.
30-10 @CIN
37-13 @SD
31-10 OAK
20-16 DET
Week 5 @KC
Week 6 PIT
Week 7 @MIN
Week 8 @BAL
Week 9 NE
Week 10 BYE
Week 11 SD
Week 12 CHI
Week 13 @OAK
Week 14 KC
Week 15 CLE
Week 16 @IND
Week 17 @GB
Chiefs (4-0)
Score Opp.
27-14 SD
41-20 PIT
42-14 @HOU
17-10 @BAL
Week 5 DEN
Week 6 @GB
Week 7 @OAK
Week 8 BUF
Week 9 BYE
Week 10 CLE
Week 11 @CIN
Week 12 OAK
Week 13 @SD
Week 14 @DEN
Week 15 DET
Week 16 @MIN
Week 17 CHI
(Statistics are game averages from current season )